Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Brown v. Board of Education

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision ruling that "separate but equal" public school segregation was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, was an important first step in ending a long established practice in some states of forcing minority children (primarily African American) to attend substandard public schools in the same community where white students often received a more advantageous education at separate schools.

But the Court went a step further than pointing out financial differences in the segregated educational systems in the country as a reason for overturning "separate but equal." It also noted that even if racially segregated schools were on an equal fiscal plane the whole concept of using laws to separate children by race within a government supported system such as the public schools was wrong:

"Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does...

Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system...

We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment."
(from: Opinion of the Court delivered by Chief Justice Warren)

Brown v. Board was an important milestone in the long struggle for equality in the United States. The fact that it is fairly recent history and was well documented means that there is a wealth of resources on it. Below you will find some basic resources on Brown v. Board, the National Historic Site in Topeka and the Topeka parents and children who took a courageous stand against school segregation in our state.

Brown v. Board of Education
National Historic Site, Topeka, Kansas
(Established in Topeka, Kansas, on October 26, 1992, by the United States Congress to commemorate the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision aimed at ending racial segregation in public schools)
--Operating Hours & Seasons
--Fees & Reservations
--Schedule a School Field Trip
--Special Events
--Special Exhibits
--2009-2010 Program Schedule
--Centennial Initiative 2016

Brown Foundation For Educational Equality
(The Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research was established in 1988 as a living tribute to the attorneys and plaintiffs in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1954 Brown v. Board of Education)

Photo Tour of the Brown v. Board National Historic Site
(From the Brown Foundation for Educational Equality)

Brown v. Board of Education (KSHS)
(Information supplied by and through the Kansas State Historical Society)

Brown v. Board of Education (Kansas Memory)
(Primary sources on Brown v. Board and school segregation in Kansas from the Kansas Memory website)

Kansas Memory Podcast
(Listen to interviews with Kansas participants in Brown v. Board)
--Charles I. Baston and Fred Rausch, Jr.
--Christina Jackson
--Maurita Davis
--Judge Robert Lee Carter

Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka Era Bibliography
(Further reources from the Kansas State Historical Society)

Interview with Linda Brown Smith
(Text of a 1985 interview with Linda Brown Smith, the daughter of Oliver Brown)

Eisenhower Presidential Library
Abiline, Kansas (Resources available from the Library)

Brown vs. Board
(Archived articles from the Topeka Capital Journal)

Looking Back: Brown v. Board of Education
(From National Public Radio)

Brown @ 50
(Howard University Law School website commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board in 2004)

"With an Even Hand"... Brown v. Board at Fifty
(An online presentation of an exhibit held at the Library of Congress in 2004)

Brown v. Board of Education
(An excellent Wikipedia article on Brown v. Board)

Brown v. Board:
Five Communities That Changed America
("Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plans" presented by the National Park Service)

Teaching With Documents:
Documents Related to Brown v. Board of Education
(From the National Archives)

Related Materials from the Library of Congress
(This presentation by the Library of Congress explores the question, What historical events led to the Supreme Court decision of 1954? by providing access to selected digitized historical information that enhances an existing research tool. Note! The photos at the top are no longer directly linked)

Article by: Bill Sowers
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Amelia Earhart

The final resting place of Amelia Earhart may yet remain a mystery, but the city of Atchison, Kansas is proud to claim her beginning. Earhart was born on July 24, 1897 in the home of her maternal grandfather, Alfred Gideon Otis, a former federal judge and president of the Atchison Savings Bank. The daughter of a railroad attorney, Amelia and her younger sister “Pidge” spent much of their childhood in various towns, including Atchison and Kansas City, Ks. She attended six high schools in four years, finally graduating from Chicago's Hyde Park High School in June 1915. Earhart always considered Atchison her hometown. The house in which she was born now houses the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, which claims to represent “the most tangible remaining link with the famous female aviator.” The Gothic Revival cottage, which looks out over the west bank of the Missouri River, is open year round to visitors.

According to the official Amelia Earhart website, maintained by her family, Earhart was not impressed the first time she encountered a plane at age 10. But a decade later, she took her first flight and was hooked. Six months after her initial flying lesson on January 3, 1921, she bought her first plane. With her second-hand Kinner Airster two-seater biplane she nicknamed “Canary” for its bright yellow paint, she set her first women's aviator record by flying to an altitude of 14,000 feet.

In the years following, Earhart continued to set records. In May 1932, she became the first woman, and only second person, to fly solo across the Atlantic (see news report in the Atchison Globe). With this flight, she also gained recognition as the first person to cross the Atlantic twice by air nonstop and for setting a record for the fastest Atlantic crossing. It was the longest distance ever flown by a woman. For this feat, she received several awards, including the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society, presented to her by President Herbert Hoover, and the Distinguished Flying Cross, being the first woman so honored. Her second book, The Fun of It, came out later that year (read an excerpt).

The following years included more record setting flights, lecture tours, celebrity status, and even fashion design. In the fall of 1935, Earhart joined the faculty of Purdue University as an adviser in aeronautics and as consultant in the Department of the Study of Careers for Women. Purdue University Libraries now houses the world's largest collection of Amelia Earhart papers, photos, memorabilia and artifacts. The Library has digitized more than 3,500 scans of photographs, maps, and documents relating to Earhart. These can all be viewed online, including a manuscript draft of a prenuptial agreement by Earhart to George Putnam expressing her "reluctance to marry."

On July 2, 1937 Earhart and her co-pilot Fred Noonan took off from Lae in Papua New Guinea with Howland Island as their intended destination in their celebrated flight around the world, “just for fun”. Their last known position report was about 800 miles into their flight near the Nukumanu Islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca was on station at Howland and was assigned to guide Earhart's Lockheed Electra 10E to the island once they neared the area. However, radio and weather difficulties caused the plane to lose radio contact. Earhart's plane never arrived at Howland, and despite a massive search by the U.S. government, no trace of Earhart, Noonan, or their plane has yet been found. Earhart's husband, George Putnam, continued the search at his own expense until October 1937. On January 5, 1939, Amelia Earhart was declared legally dead in Superior Court in Los Angeles.

The whereabouts of Earhart and Noonan remains a mystery, and continues to the subject of much speculation and controversy. Numerous books and movies have been produced with theories as wide ranging as capture by the Japanese as prisoners of war to being marooned on an island and later returning to the US to live in anonymity (see Discussion section of the Amelia Earhart Wikipedia article for sample).

Earhart's memory is kept alive by the controversy, but also by women and men alike who admire her courage and accomplishments. One such group is the Ninety Nines, an organization of women in aviation, of which Earhart was a charter member and first president. The Ninety Nines maintain the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum in Atchison, as well as the International Forest of Friendship. Located at Warnock Lake, the forest is a living memorial to the history of aviation and aerospace. A statue of Amelia Earhart and a tree from her grandfather's farm are located there.

The community of Atchison also keeps alive the memory of Amelia Earhart with an annual community celebration, held this year on July 16-17. The celebration includes an awarding of the Amelia Earhart Pioneering Achievement Award from the Cloud L. Cray Foundation, which provides a $10,000 women’s scholarship to the educational institution of the honoree’s choice. This year's honoree is University of Kansas basketball great, Lynette Woodard.

Other sites of interest:
Amelia Earhart Earthwork at Warnock Lake Park, Atchison, Kansas. Stan Herd created the 1-acre landscape mural in 1997 from permanent plantings and stone to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Earhart's birth.

Kansas State Historical Society tribute

Meet Amelia at the Atchison Library! And other festival events at the Atchison Public Library

See live videos of Earhart at

See the trailer for the 2009 movie “Amelia,” starring Hillary Swank and Richard Gere at Rotten Tomatoes

A partial bibliography of books and more books

This article was written by Diana Weaver, Director, Atchison Public Library
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